Mr Popper’s Penguins
(G) Jim Carrey
In the opening frames we are introduced to Tom Popper, who from a very early age learnt to deal with an absent father. It’s no surprise, when we fast-forward to Tom’s (Jim Carrey) adulthood, that he too is an absent father and husband.
He is a partner in a ruthless firm that is systematically buying up all the real estate left in Manhattan.
His kids visit him every other weekend in his gleaming apartment and Popper’s life is ordered in every way.
This is a well-worn premise in moviedom — it even worked for Carrey in another comedy, Liar Liar: workaholic and absent Dad needs a wake-up call to bring him around to being a loving father.
So what will save Mr Popper from a life of unfulfilment and strife?
Penguins of course. In one of the film’s more interesting stretches of logic, Popper is delivered a freeze-dried penguin as part of his father’s last will and testament. Said penguin thaws out to cause havoc (in part because another crate of his friends follows).
Tom soon finds he is in possession of six Gentoo penguins — which go about taking over his ordered apartment, nesting in the freezer section of his fridge and being entertained by Charlie Chaplin films. There are also a lot of animal bodily function jokes, which are either gross or hilarious depending on your age.
Complications arise when a nosy neighbour and over-zealous zoo-keeper want to make sure the penguins are removed from the apartment. But, rest assured, the whole family falls in love with the six penguins.
Based on a classic children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater from which it gets its basic premise, what the film does really well among all the penguin flatulence and poop is engineer a heart-warming and engaging tale about the importance of family and working together.
Jim Carrey is in fine form as Popper and doesn’t mind being upstaged by his six charges. The scenes where he transforms his apartment into a winter wonderland for the nesting penguins are as wacky as they are endearing.
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